Practice Areas

Fair Labor


Overtime and Minimum Wage
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay their non-exempt workers one and one-half times their regular hourly rate when they work more than 40 hours in any one workweek. Whether an employee must be paid overtime depends on many factors including the amount of money that an employee makes and the type of work that they do. While many employers may think that they can simply call an employee salaried and avoid paying overtime, this is often false. The true test of whether an employee is determined by the actual duties that the employee performs. Employees who have been deprived of the overtime pay that they earned may bring lawsuits against employers who improperly withhold overtime pay. The FLSA also protects employees who complain about not receiving their overtime pay. If an employee is wrongfully terminated or harassed in retaliation for demanding overtime pay to which he or she is legally entitled, that employee may have a right to sue the employer for wrongful termination. If you would like additional information about the subject of overtime pay in Alabama, we invite you to contact an attorney and make an appointment to speak with him about your claim.
Wrongful Termination
The subject of wrongful employment termination is extremely broad and can only be briefly touched upon here. Generally speaking, Alabama law follows the "at-will" employment doctrine. Under this doctrine, an employer generally is free to terminate or demote an employee with or without just cause. However, there are numerous exceptions to this doctrine, many of which are discussed on this website. Some examples include being fired or demoted because of unlawful discrimination, or in retaliation for reporting safety complaints or illegal conduct by the employer. These exceptions permit even an "at-will" employee to bring a legal action against his or her employer for wrongful termination or demotion.
Retaliation
Under federal law, it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee because he or she has exercised a legal right. This is true even if the worker is an "at-will" employee. For example, it is wrongful for an employer to retaliate against an employee who reports, or threatens to report, an employer's unlawful activity to appropriate authorities. It is also wrongful for an employer to retaliate against an employee who makes safety complaints, or protests unlawful discrimination at the work place, or files a charge of unlawful discrimination. Retaliating against an employee who demands overtime pay or other wages is another example of wrongful retaliation, and there are many others. Again, an employee who has been discharged or demoted as the result of this type of retaliation may bring a lawsuit against the employer even if the employee is an at-will employee.
Whistleblower Claims
In some circumstances, there are federal and state laws that protect employees who "blow the whistle" on their employers who are breaking the law or committing acts of fraud. It is illegal for employers to terminate or to retaliate against these whistleblowers. To be protected as a whistleblower, employees must report the illegal and/or fraudulent activities to authorities outside of the company. (Internal complaints of sexual harassment and/or discrimination may be protected under certain retaliation laws.) As a response to such corporate scandals as Enron, in 2002, Congress passed the Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX) protecting employees of public companies who blow the whistle by reporting illegal activities conducted by their employer.
Hostile Work Environment
No employee should have to endure a workplace that is hostile towards his or her sex, race, religion, national origin, age or disability! Often times hostile work environments are not illegal. But a hostile work environment that involves physical confrontation, racial slurs, sexual innuendo, pornography, religious slurs, or remarks that denigrate a person because of a disability may violate Federal law.
  • Did you report that hostility to your employer, but the problem never stopped?
  • Did you report that hostility to your employer, and have them retaliate against you by making the hostile environment worse or even terminating your employment?
If the answer to some or all of these questions is "yes" fill out our online form and one of our team members will return your call and learn more about your potential case.
Sexual Harassment
Under state and federal law, even an "at-will" employee may bring a legal action against an employer or supervisor who has sexually harassed that employee. The victim of sexual harassment can be either male or female. Under Alabama law, sexual harassment can include such things as: verbal comments, including epithets, derogatory comments or slurs; or physical conduct, including assault, impeding or blocking movement, or physical interference with normal work or movement; or visual harassment, such as derogatory posters, cartoons, or drawings; or sexual favors, including unwanted sexual advances where sexual favors are asked for in exchange for an employment benefit. "Harassment" because of sex includes sexual harassment, gender harassment and harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. In addition to monetary damages, an employee who has been the victim of sexual harassment may also recover reimbursement for attorney fees.

Medical Leave


Family and Medical Leave Act
Depending on the number of employees working for your employer at or near your work site, you may be legally entitled to take medical leave under either the federal "Family Medical Leave Act" or the state. If you are entitled to take such leave, your employer cannot fire you or otherwise retaliate against you for exercising this right. This legal right applies even to "at-will" employees, and allows an employee who has been victimized by an employer that has refused to meet its obligations under these Acts to bring a lawsuit for damages against the employer. Such an employee may even be awarded reimbursement for attorney fees.
Sailors and Soldiers Rights USERRA
The Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA) protects employees that take a leave of absence from their job to serve our country in the National Guard or Reserves.

If your employer terminated your employment shortly after your return from deployment, call us and one of our attorneys’ will talk to you about your case.
Family and Medical Leave for Sailors and Soldiers and their Families
The Family and Medical Leave Act was amended by Congress to help families adjust when a sailors and soldiers return home from active duty. Sometimes member of our Armed Forces need to seek out treatment for a variety of injuries that occur as a result of service to our country.

Your employer may have responsibilities to assist you with your return from duty and any subsequent medical treatment.

If you are a spouse of a service member, your employer may have responsibilities to help you and your family care for your returning loved one.

If you think your employer is violating those rights, or even terminated your employment because you cared for yourself or your spouse after active duty service, fill out our online form and one of our attorneys’ will respond to your inquiry and personally discuss your case.

Civil Rights


First Amendment Claims
“The First Amendment is often inconvenient. But that is beside the point. Inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation to tolerate speech."
- Anthony Kennedy

The Constitution prohibits a government employer from discharging or demoting an employee because the employee supports a particular candidate.” Heffernan v. City of Patterson, 578 U.S. ___ Slip Opinion 3 (Jan. 19, 2016).

“When an employer demotes an employee out of a desire to prevent the employee from engaging in political activity that the First Amendment protects, the employee is entitled to challenge that unlawful action under the First Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983….” Heffernan v. City of Patterson, 578 U.S. ___ Slip Opinion 3 (Jan. 19, 2016).

Sadly, government employee speech is protected only in certain time and places. When you speak, where you speak, and how you speak matters! When filling out your form, tell us the time and place you expressed your concern about government activity and who was in the room listening when you were talking and what you said, and how you campaign for your candidate.

There are many ways for government employees to assert First Amendment rights. Tell us what happened with the Who, What, Where, and When and one of our attorneys’ will respond to your inquiry and personally discuss your case.
Police Brutality
Excessive force or police brutality is a serious issue. While police do generally have a broad scope of power, they are not above the law. A police officer's motivation or intention is not controlling. Even if an officer had good intentions, but their force was unnecessary, that is still considered excessive force.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured due to excessive force by police, please call us for free consultation.
Housing Discrimination
The Fair Housing Act prohibits you from being denied renting, buying or securing financing for housing, due to your race, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children.

If you feel you have been denied housing due to any of the above reasons, please call us, so we can stand for your right.

Discrimination


Employment Discrimination
Under federal law, it is unlawful for an employer to take any employment action against an employee based upon who they are or what they believe. An employer cannot discriminate against someone because of their age, race, sex, religion, pregnancy, disability or natural origin. They cannot commit an adverse employment action against an employee for discriminatory reasons. Adverse employment actions include termination, demotion, failure to promote, reduction in work hours, unfavorable job assignments or involuntary transfers. Even "at will" employees are entitled to the legal protections afforded by the statutes. This means that employees have the right to sue employers who have engaged in discrimination, and to seek monetary damages and attorney's fees.
Age Discrimination
  • Are you over forty?
  • Did your employer terminate your employment?
  • Did your employer demote you from your former position?
  • Did the job go to somebody younger than you?
  • Did your employer promote a younger person to a position even though you were far better qualified?
If the answers to some or all of these questions is yes, you may be the victim of age discrimination. Fill out the online form and one of our attorneys’ will return your call and discuss you case.

Alabama and federal law prohibit discrimination based upon your age. Age discrimination is only provided to individuals forty years of age or older. If an employee is younger than forty, the law would not be applicable. For employees age forty and above the law prohibits age being a motivating factor in regards to adverse employment decisions made by an employer. Adverse employment decisions include termination, demotion, failure to promote, reduction in work hours, unfavorable job assignments or involuntary transfers. Also, age discrimination prohibits your being laid off or involved in a reduction in force by your employer while younger, less qualified and less experienced employees are retained by your employer.
Racial Discrimination
An employer may not terminate an employee or take other adverse job actions based on that individual's race. Race discrimination is prohibited, regardless of your race. The laws prohibiting such discrimination apply to all minorities, as well as to whites. Race discrimination can be seen in the form of a hostile work environment composed of sexual slurs and matters and symbols such as a noose. Race discrimination can also be shown by an employee suffering an adverse job action, such as termination, where they were singled out and treated differently than someone of a different race. If the employee was subjected to worse discipline by the decision maker than someone of a different race under similar circumstances, discrimination may be the cause.
Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay
An employer may not terminate an employee or take other adverse job action on account of sex or pregnancy. Sex discrimination is different than sexual harassment. Sex discrimination means that an employee is singled out and treated different than employees of the opposite sex. It can apply for either males or females, although the Equal Pay Act is only applicable to help females achieve pay equality with males. For all other types of sexual discrimination claims based upon an adverse job action a charge of discrimination must be filed with the EEOC first. An adverse job action includes termination, demotion, failure to promote, reduction in work hours, unfavorable job assignments or involuntary transfers.
Pregnancy Discrimination
Pregnancy discrimination by employers is illegal. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is now a part of a law called Title VII, which is initially administered by the EEOC. After the EEOC investigation a right-to-sue is issued that allows the suit to be filed in federal court. Pregnancy discrimination prohibits employers from fabricating reasons to fire pregnant employees in order to avoid their legal obligations.
Religious Discrimination
Federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act) prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of religion. This means that your employer cannot make any decisions based on or treat you differently because of your religious beliefs or practices in any aspect of employment—from hiring to firing and everything in between. In addition, where workers articulate a need to express their religious beliefs and practices in the workplace, companies are generally required to accommodate them, unless doing so would cause the company undue hardship. Typical religious discrimination cases involve terminations based upon request by an employee to be accommodated for their religious needs. These can include matters dealing with undesirable schedules, demotions, failure to promote or terminations.
Common Questions about Religious Discrimination
  • What is a religious observance or practice?
    Religious observances or practices include, for example, attending worship services, praying, wearing religious garb or symbols, displaying religious objects, adhering to certain dietary rules, proselytizing or other forms of religious expression, or refraining from certain activities.
  • Can my employer treat me differently because the business’s customers are hostile to my religion?
    No. If an employer takes an action based on the discriminatory religious preferences of others, including customers, clients, or co-workers, the employer is unlawfully discriminating in employment based on religion. Customer preference is not a defense to a claim of discrimination.
  • Can my employer treat me differently because my religion requires me to dress in a specific manner or groom myself in a specific manner?
    No. Title VII requires an employer, once it is aware that a religious accommodation is needed, to accommodate an employee whose sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance conflicts with a work requirement, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. Therefore, when an employer's dress and grooming policy or preference conflicts with an employee's known religious beliefs or practices, the employer must make an exception to allow the religious practice unless that would be an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.
No matter the problem your employer may have regarding your religious practices, before you can pursue your legal rights in a Court of law, you and the employer will needed to have some sort of conversation to attempt to work out the problem.

If you have had that conversation and your employer did not accommodate your religious needs, click on the link below and fill out the form and tell us about your experience.
Disability Discrimination
Do you or someone you love suffer from a physical or mental handicap? Does that physical or mental handicap affect the one or more of the following:
  • The ability to care for oneself
  • Performing manual tasks
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Walking
  • Standing
  • Lifting
  • Bending
  • Speaking
  • Breathing
  • Learning
  • Reading
  • Concentrating
  • Thinking
  • Communicating
  • Does the physical or mental impairment affect the function of one or more of the following major bodily functions?
  • Your immune system?
  • Suffer unhealthy Cell growth?
  • Your digestive, bladder and/or bowel systems?
  • A neurological or Brain disorder?
  • Your respiratory system?
  • Your circulatory System?
  • Your endocrine system?
  • Your reproductive system?
If you or a loved one is suffering problems at their place of employment and answers “Yes” to any of the above questions, fill out our information form and Fonteneau and Arnold will personally contact you to discuss your potential claim.

You may have the right to ask your employer to provide a reasonable accommodation.

If you are disabled and you think your employer terminated your employment, denied you a promotion, or demoted you because you have a disability, fill out our information form and Fonteneau and Arnold will personally contact you to discuss your potential claim.

If you are a caregiving parent to a disabled child, you also may be protected by the Americans with Disabilities from having your employer take adverse actions because of your need to care for your child.

If you or a loved one is suffering problems on-the-job and answers “Yes” to any of the above questions, fill out our information form and Fonteneau and Arnold will personally contact you to discuss your potential claim.

Mediation and Arbitration Services


At Fonteneau & Arnold, we bring our best advocacy to the Courtroom on behalf of our clients, but we also help people resolve disputes by offering mediation services or serve as an objective 3rd Party to decide disputes through arbitration services.

David Arendall has over 40 years of litigation experience in the employment law context and is well versed in resolving litigation for even the most contentious of cases. Whether serving as a neutral third-party helping parties broker a resolution during an existing case or deciding the issues as an arbitrator overseeing a case from start to finish, Mr. Arendall’s wealth of knowledge and experience is there to serve your client’s needs.

Allen Arnold and Kira Fonteneau are also available to mediate and arbitrate employment disputes.

Please call 205-252-1550 for rates and availability.